Jan Williams
Williams Builder
Robbinsville, N.J.
Big50 1987

Our office personnel are salaried, so we don't need to track their hours. For field crews, we use time sheets. The foreman on the job is responsible for filling out the sheets for each crew member. All the time sheets are pre-marked. There is a place to fill in the number of the job that the crew members are working on, and the sheet divides that job into phases with corresponding cost codes. The cost codes match the labor classification on our estimates. This gives us an idea of what phases cost us. The foreman brings the sheets to the office on Thursday, and the employees receive their salary by direct deposit the following Tuesday. We used a program to create the time sheet, and then customized it.

Jean Booth
Emerald SunRooms & Design
Austin, Texas
Big50 2001

We don't have a time clock or computer system. I keep track by talking to and looking for the 20 employees when they arrive at the shop at 7:30. If they are there, they get paid. If they're not, they don't. I track only those who don't show up. They have to report to me if they leave early. I write down notes on my calendar and do the payroll based on their hours. We have a good crew that has been here for years, so I don't have a lot of adjustments to make on payroll. The owner checks the jobsites, so he knows if they are not there or slacking off on the job.

David Crane
Crane Builders
Nashville, Tenn.
Big50 2002

Several years ago, we started paying every two weeks instead of weekly. This could have been a disaster if employees only had to hand in their sheets once every two weeks. It would be hard for them to remember what they had done. So we asked them to fill out time sheets each day and turn them in at the end of each week (subject to our production manager's inspection at any given time). If our employees get too lax on this, we have them fax in daily time sheets for a few weeks. Our guys actually do a very good job of tracking and recording their hours.

The time sheets are loaded into the computer every week. This allows us to keep current on labor costs.

John Aurgemma
Rhode Island Home Improvement
Warwick, R.I.
Big50 1991

We have 50 employees who work on multiple jobs. Our guys keep a record of their time in their trucks. They log when they leave one job, the mileage, and when they arrive at the new job. They turn the log in daily. At first, it was tough getting accurate records. The field guys weren't taking good notes. We started having them call the payroll clerk throughout the day with this information. The clerk logs the information into our accounting system. Recently we added another check. We're using a tracking device through their Nextel phone that tells us when they arrive and leave a specific location, so we can compare what they say with what we track. This provides more accurate accounting.

Joseph Billingham
Billingham Built
Erwinna, Pa.
Big50 1997

I use HomeTech estimating, which has 25 categories. We created our own time sheet by using those categories and adding some of our own, such as “Extras” and “Change Orders.” Employees place the hours next to each section. They fill out time sheets daily. I pick them up and payroll enters the information.

Because it coordinates with our estimating program, I can see if I am over or under and in which areas. I get a weekly or biweekly cost report on each job. When we started using PVC trim product, I noticed it was taking more time to install than wood trim, because the finishing techniques required more care. So I increased the labor costs on the product.

Steve Benesch
H.A.S. Construction
Culver City, Calif.
Big50 1997

Our crews complete time sheets each day. They meet at the office every morning, so that is when they turn in forms from the previous day. Each job sheet is divided into categories by job type. We bill to the budget in the contract based on that. We use the information to track budgets and find out where we are under or over. It's an honor system; the best system would be to have a supervisor on each job reviewing the sheets.